An Abbreviated History of Cannabis // Pharmacology

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An Abbreviated History of Cannabis // Pharmacology

Post#1 » Wed Dec 14, 2005 8:21 am

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An Abbreviated History of Cannabis // Pharmacology ... nabis/8667

A Brief History of Cannabis Composed By the Canadian Medical Marijuana Association 2002 Many times the subject of Cannabis-Marijuana use is interpreted as a relatively new phenomenon of the nineteenth century. With its somewhat established link between the "Hippies" and "Jazz musicians" the general masses are firmly entrenched in the thought that Cannabis use is a byproduct of our modern times. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as this dissertation shall endeavor to clarify. Man has used cannabis since ancient times. Cannabis or Marijuana or Hemp has an extensive, well-documented history, virtually hidden to most today. According to The Colombia History of the World, 1981 edition: "The earliest known woven fabric was of Hemp, a.k.a. Cannabis or Marijuana, (one and the same), which began to be used as a textile in the eighth millennium BC". Archaeologists and historians have little difficulty distinguishing Cannabis from other plant fibers in their work. Since Cannabis-Marijuana is the only known plant known for both its fiber and its medicinal properties, its unique identifiers make for ease of reference clarification. Ancient artifacts can be accurately tested, and as well, in ancient writings, Cannabis is easily and unmistakably identified. Written references to the use marijuana as a medicine date back nearly 5,000 years. The world's oldest surviving text on medical drugs, the Chinese Shen-nung Pen-tshao Ching, cites marijuana's ability to reduce the pain of rheumatism and treat digestive disorders. The name "marijuana" though is itself a fairly new phenomena, derived from a Mexican term and used effectively in the anti-Hemp movement of the 30's leading up to prohibition. For the first ten thousand years of its long history it went by many other names. In English, the farmers referred it to as "Hemp", while the medical field used the scientific term "Cannabis". Whatever the term we endear to it, it is long been speculated that the sacred herb is the object of much more attention than mere man can garnish it with, and perchance is a key to the foundation of mankind's existence. With guidance, perhaps we shall see. It is generally agreed upon among historians that Cannabis was early civilization's largest agricultural crop, from well before 1000 BC until the late 1800's AD. Cannabis was used for the vast majority of the world's fiber, fabric, medicine, paper, incense, and lighting oil as well as foodstuff for both humans and animals. Most people in the world up until the 20th century regularly used Cannabis-Hemp seed in porridge, soups and gruel. Recently it was uncovered that Cannabis was even used for building material. A bridge made of hemp hurds mixed with lime dating from around 600 AD has been discovered in the south of France. While it has flourished across the Americas, Cannabis is not a species indigenous to North America. It was first introduced to the Americas by the early Vikings, and later by Spanish European settlers. In that time period, the days of sailing ships, Cannabis was a vitally important crop. Since Cannabis was known to be highly resistant to salt and rot, the sails and rigging of virtually all ships were made from Marijuana-hemp. Today, military power has its foundation of dependence in a fossil fuel, petroleum oil; not so in the early ages of transportation, indeed All Early Explorers who mapped the world and wrote history as we know it depended on Cannabis-hemp for fuel, food, medicine, and cloth. Let us examine a brief history of the development of Cannabis use from early history to our modern era. t has been estimated that approximately 80% of all mankind's' textiles and fabrics were made primarily from Cannabis fibers until the 1820's in America, and until the 20th century in the great majority of the remaining nations.. Overseas, Ireland was renowned for her fine linens and Italy produced cloth for clothing, all with Cannabis, at least until the 1830's. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of linen used to be made from Cannabis-hemp, not flax. Early American settlers knew from experience that Cannabis-hemp was softer and warmer than cotton, and had three times the tensile strength of cotton, making it much more durable than Cotton. Homespun cloth was almost always spun from the family Cannabis-hemp patch until after the Civil War. In the Americas virtually every city and town through the mid-1800's had an industry making Cannabis-hemp rope and cordage. To say that the navies of the world relied on Cannabis in their campaigns and conquests is an understatement. Cannabis Hemp was once so crucial to the navy that King Henry VIII made it a compulsory crop to safeguard supplies for making sails and rope. When Napoleon was conquering the European continent, his most serious opposition was from the British navy. To overcome this adversary, he had to cut off his enemy from their much-needed Cannabis-hemp supply. Russia was then the world's largest Cannabis producer and exporter, so it was logical that Napoleon attack Russia. He did just that and eventually forced the Czar to stop selling Cannabis-hemp to British merchants. With these events came the inevitable US involvement in this European power struggle. A strange chain of circumstances then led up to the Americans intervention. The British had to resort to alternative measures to obtain the crucial Hemp needed to maintain their naval fleet, and they knew the outcome of their Naval campaign depended heavily upon it. So they began capturing US as well as other nations merchant ships. They gave the ships' captains an ultimatum upon capture. They could either lose their lives, ship and crew, or they could change course and sail to Russia, and the British navy would even compensate them well for the Cannabis-hemp they brought back. To get an idea of the magnitude of the quantity of Cannabis-hemp needed by the U.S Navy alone, it is estimated that the USS Constitution used over 60 tons of hemp in her. Along with the USS Constitution, ninety vessels were listed in the 1861 Naval Register. The numbers are your proof when you multiply the number of ships by the initial tonnage required, that and the fact that sails and rigging needed to be replaced every few years, the importance of Cannabis for shipping and military uses becomes plainly evident. Important enough so everyone who could grew it. The first marijuana law in America was enacted in Jamestown colony in 1619. It ordered all farmers to grow Cannabis. More mandatory hemp cultivation laws were enacted in Massachusetts in 1631, and in Connecticut 1632, and the Chesapeake Colonies. Meanwhile in England, the crown decreed that any foreigners who grew Cannabis would be rewarded with full British citizenship, while those who refused to grow hemp were often fined. Cannabis was even recognized as legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800's, mainly to encourage farmers to grow more. Americans could even pay their taxes with Cannabis for over 2 centuries. In modern times, most American school children are educated to know that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew Cannabis-hemp on their plantations. Few however, know that Jefferson was also a Cannabis smuggler extraordinaire. While commissioned as envoy to France, he masterminded the smuggling and transport of some extremely high-grade hemp seeds from China into Turkey. At the time, the Mandarin rulers valued their Cannabis seeds so highly that exportation was strictly forbidden and a capital offense punishable by death. Cannabis was also very important to the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin started one of America's first paper mills using not trees as pulp, but Cannabis. The revolutionary newspapers and pamphlets like Common Sense would probably not have been published if they had had to procure their paper from England. Until 1883, 80 to 90% of all paper in the world was made from Cannabis. Books, bibles, maps, money and newspapers were usually made from Cannabis. As a matter of fact the term "rag paper" originates from the custom that Americans as well as many other nations regularly used to recycle their Cannabis clothes, sheets, and rags, as well as discarded sails and rigging, to make paper. A popular American use for old sails was to cover the wagons of pioneers migrating westward. The word canvas has its origins as a derivative from the word cannabis. Etymology: Middle English canevas, from Old North French, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin cannabaceus hempen, from Latin cannabis hemp. It is noteworthy to mention that the American national Icons, the flag "Old Glory" and drafts of the Declaration of Independence were made of Cannabis principally. The US census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp plantations. Plantations were farms with a minimum of at least 2,000 acres. A majority of these Cannabis farms were in the south, a primary reason being the cheap slave labor. Cannabis-Hemp production back then was very labor intensive. The census does not include the tens of thousands of smaller farms, nor the family Cannabis gardens. Even with a large number of farms growing Cannabis, the US still imported roughly 80% of its overall Cannabis from Russia and various other East European countries. A little acknowledged fact is a majority of US Presidents used Cannabis. This may sound shocking to some, but upon reflecting the period of history and its medical and textile contributions to America, this was normal. Of course, it is speculative as to whether George Washington and Thomas Jefferson actually inhaled. It was used in over 90 % of tinctures prior to the 1800's. People of the era used tincture of Cannabis as commonly as we might take an aspirin today. By far, it was a standard medicine administered generally in liquid form as extracts, tinctures and elixirs, and commonly used for a large variety of ailments. The US Pharmacopoeia listed Cannabis until 1941 and stated that Cannabis can be used for treating fatigue, coughing, rheumatism, asthma, delirium tremens, migraine headaches, and the cramps and depressions associated with menstruation. So in review thus far we have bridged the huge synaptic gap in knowledge of the historic contribution of Cannabis-hemp to mankind's development. We have clearly shown that it was the world's leading agricultural crop until the late 1800's. The question we must now examine is, How can it be that Cannabis can be attributed the historic value we acknowledge and in the same breath be condemned with the statistical criminal element we read about so regularly? Cannabis has been an object of controversy throughout history, as we shall soon see. In Western Europe for instance, the Holy Roman Catholic Church strictly forbade the use of Cannabis and any other medical treatment, except for alcohol and bloodletting, for 1200 years and more. After the dark ages Cannabis was again reasserted for its medicinal value, but this time with a little help from the monarchy of the time. Documentation shows that Queen Victoria used it under physician's care to successfully treat menstrual cramps and PMS, helping to popularize it in the English-speaking world. Interestingly though, under Queen Elizabeth I, it was law that if you owned a certain amount of land, some of it had to be reserved for growing Cannabis. Under Queen Elizabeth II, you can spend up to fourteen years in prison and face an unlimited fine for growing Cannabis. All the while Queen Elizabeth's horses at Windsor Castle are bedding down on Cannabis every night! With careful research and consideration we find a series of notable historic events, which relate directly to the plant Cannabis and which heavily contributed to its demise and ultimately, its prohibition. 1: The first event was the invention of the cotton gin in 1793. Before that, Cotton and Cannabis were both highly labor intensive crops. Cannabis-Hemp was the preferred crop though, because of its superior qualities as well as its cheaper price. The 1820's saw the replacing of Eli Whitney's hand cotton gins with European-made industrial looms and gins. For the first time, cotton cloth could be produced cheaper than hand retting (rotting) and hand separating. Cannabis-hemp fibers had to be hand-spun on spinning wheels and jennies. In reflection we can see the first detrimental event to Cannabis is precipitated on a competitive technical advancement issue. Cannabis production declined, but the farmers all knew - sooner or later - a Cannabis "gin" was imminent to turn things around. 2: The second issue arose out of the medical community. Cannabis had long been an accepted, safe medicine for centuries, but it had some clearly undesirable disadvantages. One such issue was the quality of the Cannabis-hemp. It could potentially vary significantly, and because of non-specific strain and non-regulated growing techniques - one crop of Cannabis plants could be markedly more potent than the previous crop. Another viable concern was its effects varied from person to person, making a concise prescription a difficult if not unattainable regime according to conventional diagnosis/treatment plans. In addition, there existed no scientific process of testing for the amount and strength of the active substances in the 1800's or even for that matter, what the active substances were. Indeed, it wasn't until 1964 that Marijuana's main active ingredient THC (9-tetrahydrocannabinol) was isolated and identified. But these two seemingly huge detriments could be and in time would be dealt with successfully and overcome. 3: Another strong theory exists that Cannabis lost popularity in the field of medicine because of its being fat soluble, that is oil-based. As an oil base medicine it could not be injected as morphine could be. It thus lost appeal in the eyes of the new generation of medicine, those of the progressive new sciences, seeking to utilize the developed technologies of the modern era. Yes a third setback was again directly related to another competitive technological advance: the invention of the hypodermic syringe. When the syringe became popular among physicians it was quickly promoted as the primary choice of medical administration by an overwhelming majority of doctors. From this growing general consensus, there arose what can be construed as a bias attitude in favor of injections over tinctures and orally ingested medication. Morphine became the default drug of choice in pain management therapy, and largely replaced Cannabis. Morphine was considered superior because its potency was consistent and easily measured, it worked successfully on virtually everyone, and it could be injected, thus following the newly established acceptance of science principles being instituted in the medical communities worldwide. The medical community then had no conclusive data as to the damaging, addictive properties of Morphine as it does now. Even with such daunting opposition, Cannabis was still used regularly by doctors and remained in the Pharmacopoeia. Medical researchers still entertained high aspirations that it would reassert itself when it was scientifically understood. And, of course, as the problems of morphine addiction began to surface and be recognized, Cannabis was again reevaluated as a medical component. Coordinated in this same time frame, whether coincidental or not, the Cannabis Industry equivalent of the cotton gin, called the "decordicating machine", was developed. It was invented by G.W. Schlichten and patented in 1917. By the 1930's the harvesting and processing equipment for Cannabis was up to the same performance grade as that of the Cotton industry and ready to issue a challenge for textile dominance. Popular Mechanics magazine of February, 1938 touted hemp as "The New Billion Dollar Crop." All in all, Hemp seemed poised to make a viable contribution to the North American textile industry. Henry Ford, inventor of the Ford automobile, recognized the utility of the hemp plant. He constructed a car of resin stiffened hemp fiber, and even ran the car on ethanol made from hemp. Ford knew that hemp could produce vast economic resources if widely cultivated. Ford's optimistic appraisal of cellulose and crop based ethyl alcohol fuel can be read in several ways. First, it can be seen as an oblique jab at a competitor. General Motors had come to considerable grief the summer of 1925 over another octane boosting fuel called tetra-ethyl lead, and government officials had been quietly in touch with Ford engineers about alternatives to leaded gasoline additives. As well, by 1925 the American farms that Ford loved were facing a growing economic crisis that would later intensify into the depression of the 30's. Although the causes of the crisis were complex, one potential solution was seen in creating new markets for farm products. With Ford's financial and political backing, the idea of opening up industrial markets for farmers would be translated into a broad movement for scientific research in agriculture that would be labeled "Farm Chemurgy." The Ford Motor Company, in the 1930s, created charcoal fuel, methanol, and other compounds out of Cannabis-Hemp at their Iron Mountain, Michigan plant. It seemed Fords plans were well under way to engineering an era of Farm Chemurgy Why Henry's plans were delayed for more than a half century remain a point of controversy to this day: Ethanol has been known as a fuel for many decades. Indeed, when Henry Ford designed the Model T, it was with the expectation that ethanol, made from renewable biological materials, such as Cannabis, would be a major automobile fuel. Surprisingly however, gasoline emerged as the dominant fuel in the early twentieth century. This has been speculatively attributed to the ease of operation of gasoline engines with the materials then available for engine construction, to a growing supply of cheaper petroleum from oil field discoveries, and the intense lobbying by petroleum companies for the federal government to maintain steep alcohol taxes, thereby restricting the economic feasibility of ethanol based fuels. Many bills proposing a National energy program that made use of Americas vast agricultural resources (for fuel production) were killed by sensationalist smear campaigns launched by vested petroleum interests. Gasoline had many recognized disadvantages as an automotive resource when compared with Cannabis-hemp fuel. The "new" fuel had a lower octane rating than ethanol, was much more toxic (particularly when blended with tetra-ethyl lead and other compounds used to enhance octane), generally more dangerous, and contained harmful threatening air pollutants. Petroleum was more likely to explode and to burn accidentally, gum would form on storage surfaces and carbon deposits would form in combustion chambers of the engines using it. Pipelines needed to be constructed for distribution from "area found" to "area needed". Petroleum was much more physically and chemically diverse than ethanol and as such necessitated complex refining procedures to ensure the manufacture of a consistent quality "gasoline" product. And yet even with its obvious serious shortcomings when compared to cellulose fuels, Gasoline managed to become the primary fuel for the new automobile age, spurned on by huge cash incentives and infusions of several corporate entities wielding huge media budgets. The advertisement campaigns were sensational and relentless in coercing the general opinion towards acceptance of the inferior new gasoline over the ethanol based fuels. Ultimately it proved to be an untimely confrontation for Cannabis. For within months came perhaps the most devastating blow to Cannabis in the form of a nationwide negative-publicity smear campaign initiated by several key figures in the American Economy who shall remain named. This campaign of public paranoia generation has been aptly named the "reefer madness" scare of the 1930's. Conspiracy theories abound worldwide, and most turn out to be one form of hoax or another, but the national media attention which was turned on Cannabis with so much vile obfuscation is a terrible blemish to journalism. It is an insult to respectable intelligence recognized as a national horror story that is well documented by respected journalists. During the years in question there existed several special interests of the day that stood to be financially compromised, even ruined by the advent of a textile such as Cannabis-hemp. And even as in modern times, some business interests, upon discovery that they cannot compete in quality or price, stoop to unethical competing by political manipulation. It is well documented that William Randolph Hearst, legendary newspaper mogul, owned huge tracts of forest land, which he intended for use in the paper industry making wood-pulp paper. Cheap Cannabis-based paper would have compromised his forestry investments into a huge loss. A man of his shrewdness was not about to let that happen. Through his extensive publishing and film enterprises, Hearst was able to exert a great influence on American public opinion. Late in the 19th century, for example, reports in his newspapers on Spanish atrocities in Cuba so aroused the public that the U.S. declared war against Spain. The policies advocated by Hearst's publications made him one of the most controversial media figures of his time. He was denounced by many for his isolationist policy and extreme nationalism and praised by others as a patriot. Randolph Hearst was a master of his namesake "yellow" journalism, notorious for his ability to sensationalize matters and highly capable of starting wars. The "reefer madness" anti-cannabis campaign is an unsightly tribute to his facetious workings in American history and is despised and/or laughed at to this day. Typical stories published by him might be about drug-crazed "niggers" that raped white women and couldn't be stopped with bullets, or about little Johnny, who smoked reefer then ax-murdered his whole family. Hearst was unrelenting in his extremist pursuit and not above deploying the racist issue, after all there was a fortune in investments at stake. His company was one of the first to employ radio as well as film in their quest for control of the media. Perhaps Hearst's most cunning ploy was his successful campaign to rename Cannabis-hemp. By doing so he successfully eliminated the problem of previously established credibility accorded the plant Cannabis. After all, there were questions haunting the issue as plain as his proverbial writing on the wall, and he had to dissolve them. How could you convince farmers that their hemp patch, which grandma used to spin into cloth, was a "killer weed"? How could you convince the medical community that a medicine that they themselves have proved safe for over a thousand years was "the assassin of youth"? The answer was both terrible and brilliant: You don't. Instead Hearst had to manipulate the data given to the public - don't let them understand what you're talking about. So Hearst, with a long history of anti-Mexican racism, came up with the plot to use an obscure slang Mexican term for Cannabis: the new word. Marijuana. He stole the term from a popular song sung by some of Pancho Villa's revolutionaries - La Cucaracha. ("The roach, the roach, refuses to march, until he has some marijuana to smoke.") Hearst knew the value of a dollar, honest or not, and with his many dollars he managed to establish some formidable allies in his campaign to eradicate the potentially competitive Cannabis industry. His paper mills required toxic bleaching and chemically processing of the wood pulp. The DuPont Corporation supplied most of the lethal chemicals involved. It has been long debated the issue of the relationship between the coincidental appearance of DuPont's eagerness to introduce petroleum-based fibers such as nylon and Hearst's all out condemnation of Cannabis. In truth, the last thing DuPont needed was economic competition in the form of a viable, proven superior natural fiber flooding the market. Again it seemed mutually beneficial for both companies to see Cannabis production eliminated in America. Alas, as in all great theatrics, there were allies employed within the government, and they were keen on entertaining the idea of prohibition, even a plant like Cannabis. Alcohol prohibition had just recently ended, and there were scores of soon-to-be unemployed ATF "G-men." Scattered in offices across the nation, they were eager and ready to protect the masses from, uh, just what is there left for them to protect us from? If a new demon wasn't found and quickly, hundreds and hundreds of competent colleagues might have to get an honest job. Thus it was that Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, became a key player in the conspiracy to effectively weed out Cannabis for extinction. Anslinger was the Nephew of Andrew Mellon, head of Mellon Bank who were the key financial backers to DuPont. In 1937 Mellon patented the sulfuric acid wood pulp bleaching process used by Hearst's mills. Anslinger testified to congress that "Marijuana is the most violence causing drug known to Mankind," backing his claims with cuttings from Hearst's since-discredited newspaper stories. Since direct outlawing of Cannabis would require a constitutional amendment (like alcohol prohibition), something subtler than a full frontal attack against Cannabis-Hemp was required. The devious end result of avoiding the Constitutional issue was accomplished by disguising Cannabis prohibition as a revenue measure. More treachery for the future to sort out. Instead of going to the food and drug, commerce, or textile committees, as it should have, the Marijuana Tax Act was submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee on April 14, 1937. What the house received was a bill prepared in secrecy without outside consultation or input from interest groups, and then erroneously mislabeled so as to prevent the nations farmers and America's medical community from being aware of it. And so it was that the Marijuana Tax Act was basically rubber-stamped through approval by committee and Congress without so much as a pondering as to the true repercussions of what their terrible miscarriage of truth would manifest in generations to come. Despite the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act, World War II saw the US government forced to eat crow and come around to a complete about face. The Japanese had successfully cut off the USA's main supply of hemp, Manila Hemp via the supply line from the Philippines to USA. The US war effort required rope and cordage to move forward. The war effort saw the US government supplying "The Assassin of Youth", Cannabis seed to American farmers, and the Department of Agriculture producing pamphlets and a training film called "Hemp for Victory" to American farmers. It became mandatory law for USA farmers to see the film, and the children in Kentucky 4H Clubs were recruited to participate by growing "The Killer Weed" Cannabis-hemp. It was a fitting twist of irony for the government to employ innocent children to cultivate the Cannabis they needed to wage a not-so-innocent war after so many years of exposing those same children to media sensationalism that ended Hemp's national production. Without the nation's children and the farmer's mandatory intervention in the cultivation of Cannabis, the war effort may certainly have had different results. After the war, however, the prohibition of Cannabis was again instituted and remains strictly enforced. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 is without question considered the most pronounced attack against Cannabis. Today, the USA is the sole remaining bastion for mass-hysteria generated towards Cannabis. Canada is leading the world with its Medical Marijuana Research Programs and Initiatives. Most European countries have either decriminalized Cannabis, or have stopped enforcing biased, antiquated and unjust laws. Amsterdam has for decades allowed people to buy Cannabis in coffeehouses, as do various other cities in Germany and Denmark. England's Conservative Party leader recently called for legalization of Cannabis, only to be trumped by the head of the prison system, who called for the legalization of all drugs. England has Dutch style Cannabis Café's open. Portugal has already legalized all drugs. The USA is the only remaining major nation to insist that Cannabis is a law enforcement issue rather than an agricultural or mental health issue. Farmers in 30 countries grow hemp for industrial purposes, while American farmers are prohibited from growing this profitable and environmentally friendly crop. Nine American states currently have lawful provisions for medical marijuana, but to date many Americans continue to face legal prosecution for medical marijuana in those states that have medical marijuana access. Canada although pioneering in experimental medical marijuana programs, has neglected to facilitate safe access and supply for Canadian patients. It continues to enforce the unconstitutional laws of an ineffective policy, to the extent of patients dying while waiting for medication, to the extent of criminal prosecution from a government for not being able to follow a discriminatory unconstitutional medical procedure, to the extent of forcing human beings to choose between life and death. It Is Time For A Change, and the change begins with you.

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